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What is Glycolic Acid?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 21, 2024
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Glycolic acid is perhaps the best-known of a group of chemicals called fruit acids or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). It is derived from sugar cane, so it can be considered a natural product. Citric acid from oranges and other citrus fruits also fall under the same classification as glycolic acid.

Industrial uses for this product include rust removal and degreasing, so pure glycolic acid — generally sold in concentrations of 70% or more — is extremely dangerous to exposed skin. In fact, the government considers any product with a concentration of over 10% to be a hazardous material.

Most consumers know glycolic acid not from its industrial uses, but from its cosmetic ones. It is generally used as a natural skin exfoliant and moisturizer, although there is much debate over its safety and effectiveness. Some proponents suggest that products with a glycolic acid concentrations of less than 10% are practically useless. The problem is that many large-scale cosmetic producers will not increase the acid levels for fear of liability and class action lawsuits. Some smaller cosmetics companies with high-end clients do offer products with at least a 10% acid concentration.

Glycolic acid works as an exfoliating agent because of its high acidity but easy solubility. When placed on the skin as part of an exfoliating cream or gel, it goes under the damaged upper layers of skin and destroys the 'glue' which holds dead skin to the surface. As this dead skin is chemically burned off, the other ingredients carry the individual flakes away and a water rinse neutralizes the remaining acid. The result is a much-smoother skin surface and a more youthful appearance. A secondary benefit is the product's ability to draw moisturizers into the newly-exfoliated skin surface. This is why cosmetic counters often sell a complete system of skin care; the rest of the alpha-hydroxy line contains moisturizers and neutralizers to counteract the corrosive actions of glycolic acid.

Cosmetic exfoliants and moisturizers containing glycolic acid may leave the user's skin especially sensitive to the sun, so many skin care experts recommend using a sunscreen after exfoliating with such products. Some customers seeking a more complete exfoliation may opt for a chemical peel. In general, a chemical peel involves a careful scrubbing of the skin followed by an application of a powerful AHA such as glycolic acid. Acid concentration levels in chemical peels can be as high as 50% or more. Even industrial suppliers of glycolic acid limit their concentration to 70%, so this is indeed a very powerful chemical process.

Quite often after a chemical peel, a patient's skin will look as if it were extremely sunburned. Several days of recovery are often necessary for a complete recovery from a chemical peel. Proponents of the process say that the process may appear dangerous or unsightly, but the results are worth the temporary discomfort.

Whether or not this product is the miracle ingredient in a cosmetic Fountain of Youth, there can be no doubt that it is effective when used correctly and in the proper concentration level for an individual's exfoliating and moisturizing needs. As with any other acid, proper attention must be given to storage and access. Young children could experience severe skin rashes or internal problems if the products are improperly applied or ingested.

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Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to BeautyAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By bluevine — On Mar 02, 2014

I use an all-natural 10 percent glycolic night cream by Reviva Labs, three or four nights a week. (if I use it more than three or four nights a week, my skin becomes extremely dry, in the superficial exfoliating process). There's a brief, slight sting when I first apply it. I love that there are no chemicals in the cream. It helps keep acne at bay, smooths my 41-year old combination skin and lightens some of my dark spots. I've read numerous articles that glycolic acid acts as an antioxidant.

By anon347841 — On Sep 10, 2013

You should try Made From Earth's grapefruit glycolic wash; it is very fresh smelling, and has a nice light texture. There's no greasy "film" left after washing with this cleanser, but it also doesn't dry the skin out. In fact, it seems to have helped with my combination/T-zone skin. The dry patches on my cheeks are gone and my oil is better controlled.

My skin is also brighter, as the glycolic acid does help to naturally exfoliate those dead and dull skin cells that tend to build up on the face. It's surprisingly gentle as well. At night when I wash, I allow this to sit on my face for about 60 seconds to allow the glycolic acid to do its magic. It has a slight tingle to it, but nothing serious.

By anon331075 — On Apr 20, 2013

Just use snail cream. It has glycolic inside. I cannot bear the horrid actual liquid acid or the stories about them also how ugly the skin looks afterwards. It is not worth it at all!

By anon274789 — On Jun 13, 2012

Leslie Pools is selling Glycolic acid for removing scale (calcium, etc. deposits) on swimming pool tile. I have found that it does work better than any scale-remover I have tried or know of, while still preserving the luster and gloss of the tile. Leslie Pools also has a product that when added to swimming pool water will prevent the build-up of scale.

I am trying it, but it is too early to know whether it does what it is supposed to.

By anon260170 — On Apr 10, 2012

I love Skin Laboratory products and purchased them online from them. I use the Level 1 products. They have great instructions be sure to read them, understand what you are doing and follow them.

I don't leave the products on for more than a minute because I want to be cautious and don't want to damage my face. I would rather take a more cautious approach so I have never left the product on long enough to have peeling.

The only issue I had was when I wasn't careful and got some on my lips. Again, read and follow the instructions.

Their website had great info. Read through the FAQs. I have not touched the products designed for professionals to use. I will leave that to the professionals!

By anon257694 — On Mar 28, 2012

I've used both Glycolic acid peels (10 percent - 50 percent) and Salicylic acid peels (20 percent) with no issues other than burning and flaking for months.

You're not going to see huge results after two weeks of use and you probably shouldn't be using a peel more than twice a week at most.

I saw someone post stating they used a Glycolic acid peel two days straight and were concerned about looking dried out and sunburned. Please don't do this. Once a week is fine and shouldn't be done more than twice.

I found that the Glycolic Acid has more of a tingling/stinging sensation while the Salicylic acid has more of a burning sensation. No, they don't feel good and you will get red and your skin will peel and flake -- but that's the point.

I haven't done a peel in years, but have just purchased a 30 percent glycolic acid peel and a 20 percent salicylic peel online and look forward to getting them as I've accumulated a lot of redness on my face from acne scarring/pigmentation.

By anon250506 — On Feb 26, 2012

*Never ever use something without consulting a healthcare professional.* Different things work for different people. Plus, glycolic acid looks like more of a risk than anything!

If you want to reduce your acne, try benzoyl peroxide and a face-wash containing salicylic acid. To reduce scars, I really do recommend lemon juice.

By anon233379 — On Dec 06, 2011

Is it fine to use glycolic acid cream 6 percent on acne marks?

By anon195869 — On Jul 12, 2011

I'm using a 10 percent glycolic acid cream. If I use it alone with no other product, I get not only extremely dry skin, but small lines and wrinkles (hope they're temporary), but if I use a moisturizer on top of the GA cream, I see no effects at all; no peeling, dry skin, etc. Any advice or help would be appreciated. Thank you.

By anon182094 — On Jun 01, 2011

I have been using the Grapefruit Glycolic Scrub Wash from Made From Earth for at least five years. I have tried other "generic" brands only to be disappointed. Made From Earth's Glycolic Scrub keeps my sensitive skin blemish free and healthy looking. Very, very pleased.

This is by far the best face wash I've ever used! It is safe to use around your eyes and isn't over drying. Most stores where I live don't carry it so I buy it through their website online.

By anon177802 — On May 19, 2011

Is the jan marini glycolic wash harmful to your hairline if you accidentally get some on? Not sure of the content of the glycolic acid in the face wash.

By anon177750 — On May 19, 2011

For best results these products should be used with the guidance of a skin care professional.

By anon176870 — On May 16, 2011

I bought 10 percent glycolic Acid from Alta. I used it for three days. After that, it damaged my forehead like it is burned very dark. my skin was better before. I am very upset. why is this cream sold in the store if it is damaging the face? I want to know where I can show the damage and where can I file a complaint. It is not good business.

By anon175508 — On May 12, 2011

TZone Skin care does a 30 percent glycolic peel *free* monthly if you use their products, (you purchase four products quarterly) all natural, amazing products.

They do offer a 55 percent and higher peel but only after six months to a year of receiving the 30 percent peels. The products are comparable to the higher end, pricey companies, but since they do not advertise they keep costs down.

I have been using their products for a year now, and my 50 year old skin is beautiful, and yes I can pass for my late 30's. I have never experienced any problems with the 30 or 55 percent peels, but I do find that the 55 percent is strong and only leave it on for 10 minutes. I peel my neck upper chest and hands also. I am very pleased and so is my pocket book!

By anon172432 — On May 03, 2011

A neighbor of mine has been using glycolic acid for over 10 years. She is now in her mid-40's and she looks 30! Everyone is different and should make their own decisions. I'm just stating an observation that may or may not be related to the glycolic acid.

By anon168670 — On Apr 18, 2011

I'm 38 and still suffering from black and whiteheads on my skin. I've been using glycolic acid for few weeks and I still have uneven skin around my mouth and blackheads on my nose. I feel better with brown spots. Is it OK if I use 0.025 tretinoin cream at the same time?

By anon167558 — On Apr 13, 2011

A nice easy trial way to start is with lemon juice. It lifts the top layer of skin, leaving a smoother, softer, unclogged surface. It feels like tiny insect biting all over your skin on the first application, and done well, it will make blemishes bleed. But using products with 0 on the comedogenic rating is excellent. I also use a few drops max of tea tree oil in an egg white face mask, so I get the benefit that is proven just as effective as benzoyl peroxide from the tea tree without the side effects.

If you need it to be quick and convenient, Mario Badescu does an excellent, cheap(ish) Glycolic acid toner, with few, non-clogging ingredients. MD Formulations ultra-calming gel is excellent afterwards. Elemis Tri-Enzyme Facial wash contains nice fruit acids in a gentle creamy wash, with less pore-clogging than Mario Badescu's Enyme Cleanser.

Lancome's Huile Eclat is a deep pore oil cleanser with 0s on every single ingredient for pore clogging tendencies (from the very scientific papers- not Lancome's opinion, the real verdict). My skin is bloody difficult. This has taken a long time to get to. My skin is looking very, very good. I am proud to walk out with no make-up on.

By anon162860 — On Mar 25, 2011

I used NOREVA Zeniac LP Fort with AHA- BHA. During the first week of using, it gets worse. My skin peeled but my acne/pimple gets bigger. There's no percentage of AHA indicated on the package and it's only indicated to use it regularly and it's also moisturizing the skin.

By anon160589 — On Mar 16, 2011

I used a 10 percent glycolic acid in drop form two days in a row. I neutralized it with baking soda. Day one I had a little tingle, but was fine. Day two I had quite a bit more tingle and more redness. I feel like I have a sun burn. And, when I neutralized with the baking soda, I felt more tingle (both days). Is this normal? Should I be doing this less often? Thanks for any response!

By anon145369 — On Jan 23, 2011

I don't understand why anyone in their right mind would put a glycolic acid product of over 30 percent on their sacred faces! And, especially when you buy them on the internet you never know what you're getting!

If it's over 50 percent, you could be getting the industrial stuff or something much much worse like a regular acidic chemical that is not safe for the face.

I never buy off Ebay or Amazon, but instead only buy from reputable sellers.

Also, to the person who said they may have had an allergic reaction: sometimes companies do put ingredients that aren't so safe (even though they claim they are, but I refuse to think that) such as ammonimum hydroxide. Online, it will say it's perfectly fine and that it's a PH stabilizer. Well, after buying Alpha Hydroxy Glycolic Lotion 10 percent and seeing it had Ammonium Hydroxide in it I took it right back to the store and bought Reviva 5 percent and I'm seeing nice results.

I also use Peter Thomas Roth's Complexion Pads with 10 percent Glycolic Acid along with Mario Badescu's Enzyme Cleansing Gel with Glycolic Acid and my face is as soft as a baby's bottom.

I make sure to always, always put SPF on my skin even though it is winter and I make sure not to get it on my eyes and then I use Black and Beautiful Cocoa Butter on my face to better tone (and I'm not black, but my friend introduced me to this product which is available at Walmart and it has made a huge difference in the texture and tone of my skin!).

By anon136574 — On Dec 23, 2010

I can get a 44 gallon drum of glycolic acid from a plastics manufacturing company where I work. Will this be OK if I just pour it in my bubble bath?

I want to ask because I have heard some bad stories.

By anon133559 — On Dec 11, 2010

How do I use glycolic acid on face? Please suggest to me a product name so that i can purchase it from the market.

By anon131360 — On Dec 02, 2010

I have used 10 to 30 percent glycolic acid to clear up my severe acne and all the scars, and it took a while. I always buy online. Always use bicarbonate of soda to stop it working. I would recommend the use of a good moisturising sun blocker both in summer and winter months. --KMB

By anon130392 — On Nov 28, 2010

I had a brown spot on my forehead and two on my left cheek. It was suggested I get a laser peel. I had it done almost two months ago, and my face healed really brown. I was given bleaching pads,desonide and moisturizer to clear the face, but after three weeks with that treatment and seeing no results I was given 10 percent glycolic cream to fade the over pigmentation I ended up with.

Is this the right approach? I always had great skin (other than the three spots) Help!

By anon114510 — On Sep 28, 2010

My nutrition specialist suggested I use the Made from Earth Grapefruit Glycolic Scrub two or three times per week in order to deep clean my pores. You would think that since it's glycolic acid, it would be pretty harsh on the skin but it's not drying or irritating at all for my sensitive skin. After use my skin looks brighter and feels cleaner.

I also love the smell of it. The smell puts me in the mind of a spa so, I feel like I'm at a salon or something when I'm using this.

A little bit goes a long way and the bottle will last you forever!

By anon113192 — On Sep 23, 2010

I am 19 years old, and i started getting glycolic peels from my esthetician when i was 17. I have acne and have tried tons of products, but the peels really help! I also use a glycolic acid lotion, 15 percent, and i love it! My acne is totally under control now. I use all Tikkun products and my skin is so soft and smooth.

I also get peels on my back, and now i have no back acne at all! it's like magic! If you have acne i would recommend you try it! Check out Tikkun products, they are so worth the price!

By anon112338 — On Sep 20, 2010

can glycolic acid be used on dry semi-sensitive skin?

By anon112202 — On Sep 19, 2010

I also use the Jan Marini bioglycolic facial wash, but I use it as a treatment and not a wash and I get better results. I wash my face, put on the cream and once it starts tingling, I wash it off. Works great.

Like someone else mentioned, it doesn't state what percentage of glycolic acid is in the product though. But it works, so I'm thinking of sticking with that. Just be smart, people.

By anon110389 — On Sep 11, 2010

I use a 10 percent glycolic acid solution daily and have no problems at all. As a matter of fact, my skin looks so much better!

I'm 46 years old and I do not have a wrinkle on my face at all, but acne has been a monster! I have a nice facial regimen and I make sure I use good moisturizers and sunscreen. Follow directions and use common sense with any product for best results.

By anon107075 — On Aug 28, 2010

I am 75 years old and have been using 30 percent glycolic acid for at least 15 years. My dermatologist comments on my skin whenever I see her.

If you are starting to use glycolic acid never exceed 30 percent. That's a professional level. I started with 10 percent and worked up to 30 percent. I only use it once a month, seldom more than that as it's not necessary.

You only want to take off the top layer of skin. If you go deeper, burning and scarring can occur as you can read everywhere. Read the directions and use your common sense. Your skin didn't get that way overnight and you won't see a difference overnight. Be patient -- it's worth it!

By anon106886 — On Aug 27, 2010

You put 70 percent acid on your skin and now want to sue? God bless America.

By anon101470 — On Aug 03, 2010

I bought this product off the internet. It was 70 percent. I used it on a small sun spot according to the directions. Now a few days later I have a round scab and I think an indentation into my skin. I am seeing a doctor about it. Does anyone know about any lawsuits over these products?

By anon100430 — On Jul 30, 2010

My mother has always warned me never to exfoliate after her doctor linked her destroyed skin with years of weekly exfoliation. Now I understand why.

By anon90277 — On Jun 15, 2010

I am pregnant (35 weeks) and I saw a derma doctor for acne scarring. He told me to use Physicians Complex Glycolic acid face wash twice a day until delivery. After delivery get a series of professional glycolic peels, followed by Fraxel. Hope this helps the pretty ladies.

By anon89318 — On Jun 09, 2010

I am 20 years old. At around 15 i began to get terrible, terrible acne. I used all the supermarket products and then tried glycolic acid (using bicarbonate soda to neutralize) and I found it to be a long process.

But a new miracle cure (don't worry not a scammy selling person) is what i found at university.

My american friend came back after the christmas holidays with bad acne on her forehead and about five days later it was literally nearly gone. I asked her what she was using and she said benzoyl peroxide.

This is available over counter or you can order it online and is only about £3. It comes in a tube and has 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. I bought a 5 percent one, though use it sparingly around all the affected skin, and i put a bit extra on the spot.

I cannot, cannot stress enough the difference it made. I went up to 10 percent because i was so so happy, and it was about three weeks later i had fully clear skin! I had a few scars from the acne but they have gone now and two years later i don't use it as much.

When i feel a spot appearing i apply my cream morning and night and voila. I would recommend however, after putting it on, use (lightly) a moisturizer 30 minutes after because it can make your skin dry on the first few days.

By anon88634 — On Jun 06, 2010

Love this forum - great ideas. I bought GlycoDerm and glycopure and both perform very well. These kits are (in my opinion) better than a spa treatment because I can regulate the time on my face. If if doesn't feel good, I remove it. Happy and pretty.

By anon88406 — On Jun 04, 2010

I just purchased Glycolic MD Formulations Moisturizer 15 percent and was wondering if I can use this on my eyes as well, or keep from my eye and mouth area? Thank you.

By anon86055 — On May 23, 2010

Folks, please use common sense when it comes to putting acid on your face.

Start with a low concentration - I began with a 12 percent glycolic solution and am now using 35 percent.

Read the instructions thoroughly (and be sure you understand them). Become familiar with how to properly use a product before you use it.

Don't neglect the spot test on your inner elbow! I know how tempting it is to use a new product immediately, but it's better to have a bad reaction on small patch of your arm than your entire face. Be patient!

If the instructions say not to exceed a certain amount of time, don't exceed it! This is your face we're talking about, and you're putting acid on it.

Give your skin a break after four applications or so. This is included in the instructions for a reason.

Glycolic acid has been a miracle for clearing up my cystic acne and making my skin look incredible. If you can follow directions, I highly recommend it.

By anon85991 — On May 23, 2010

I underwent the Fraxel procedure and one of my regimens is to soap my face two times a day with a glycolic soap and applying sunblock (Spectraban SPF60) after rinsing during the day and applying a peeling cream during the night. Works perfectly. If you need a very fast drastic result in removing your hyperpigmentation and just all pigmentations, Fraxel is the best procedure.

By anon85314 — On May 19, 2010

I’m currently being treated for brown spots. I was prescribed Tri-luma which has lightened the brown spots within 28 days. I was extremely happy.

However, on my last visit they applied the 30 percent glycolic acid peel. I was red for the day, but it drastically dried my face and scabbed on my forehead. Two days after, my brown spots had returned and darker. The doctors said the 30 percent glycolic acid peel is too strong and shocked the skin, causing the brown sports to return.

I’m back to square one treating the brown spots.

By anon84470 — On May 15, 2010

I have bought glycolic acid 12 percent.I wish to use it on myself, but can anyone tell me how often to use it and how long should i leave it on my face and also how much to apply? I await a reply.

By anon82403 — On May 05, 2010

I bought 60 percent glycolic acid from the internet and used it responsibly and love it! All these people trying to scare people are just spa employees afraid of losing business.

Each time I've bought glycolic I noticed that the seller included instructions, even though I researched it myself beforehand.

The first week I start with one minute and from there keep it on longer. It does not hurt when it's on, it just feels kind of hot and then when I take it off it feels fine. If the pharm. companies (and spas) would sell this stuff at a reasonable price people would not have to buy in on the internet. Until then, I buy mine online and my face looks great!

By anon78860 — On Apr 20, 2010

I purchased a 50 percent glycolic acid off of eBay, from Magnificent Face. Love it! Have only used one time and already seeing positives. I used baking soda to neutralize, after three minutes. Only experienced mild stinging and the feeling of a mild sunburn for a few hours afterwards. This morning my skin looks great. I am very pleased. Can't wait to see the results after the six-week period.

By anon78481 — On Apr 19, 2010

I have been using the DDf Glycolic wash (3 percent) followed with the DDH toner (10 percent) I love the results, other than around my mouth i have noticed a darkening of the skin. The dry patches have gone away, now that my skin is use to it. Will this dark skin go away too? Can anyone recommend a good moisturizer to use these products with?

By anon77495 — On Apr 14, 2010

Who is selling the glycolic acid at these high strengths?

I am a licensed Esthetician and am trained to use 30 percent and would never just sell any one of my clients the product. You're taking huge chances on your skin when you don't know how to take care of your skin pre and post peels.

Go seek a good Esthetician at your local spa or an esthetics school and learn the proper way to take care of your skin first.

To the lady who burned her daughter's skin, please get professional advice before doing any kind of peel to anyone.

By anon74541 — On Apr 02, 2010

I am 37 and have had some powerful chemical peels, glycolic acid (60 percent) being one of them.

I have smoked for 18 yrs and when people find out that and the fact I have a grown son, they are floored. I don't have "smokers face" and while I have quit, these peels have kept acne at bay, and improved my overall complexion.

I have no crows feet and my skin looks smooth and supple. I have hyperpigmentation from past procedures, but it went away.

For people putting crap in this forum saying "it is not good, don't do it," you can have these done at a medical spa. Find out what they use (Glytone being one of them). They use powerful chemicals and it does work, and it is foolish to think that when doing things like this to improve our looks, there is no pain involved. If there is no pain, it ain't working, and it ain't going to work.

By anon69692 — On Mar 09, 2010

I found a bottle of glycolic acid 70 percent at a pharmacy and am a little afraid to use it with all the burn stories I've heard. If the pharmacy sells it, shouldn't it be OK?

By anon68686 — On Mar 03, 2010

Ive been using retinoic acid for many months now but there's not any changes so my dermatologist decided to switch me to glycolic acid cream 10 percent. my skin becomes dry and i notice that it peels, and it's quite itchy. is it a normal reaction from using glycolic acid cream?

By anon64783 — On Feb 09, 2010

question 25 answer to anon20451. Baking soda and water will neutralize the glycolic. Put a good amount in your sink with water and rinse. You will feel a sting. when you no longer feel the sting it will be neutralized. Follow with a good non-glycolic) moisturizer.

By anon63746 — On Feb 03, 2010

i use the 30 percent glycol acid once a week. i've used it four times now and my friend has also. when i put the acid on my face it brings me to tears with the amount it stings. it really does hurt! afterwards there's no apparent redness or dryness and even though it stings, i have seen good results in the four weeks.

By anon61127 — On Jan 18, 2010

To #53/anon59528: why do you need SPF 90 at night?

I've been using Jan Marini's bioglycolic face wash, and it seems to work well, but I can't find any info on how much glycolic acid it actually has in it.

By anon59809 — On Jan 10, 2010

i bought the glycolic acid 50 percent peel rx kit and was very impressed with the peel and also the process they recommend. Their peel included a glycolic 10 percent daily exfoliation and Hyaluronic moisturizer which made my skin feel fantastic (it's oil free too). The daily glycolic 10 percent keeps the skin turnover moving along so the peel is given a boost.

By anon59528 — On Jan 09, 2010

I started using glycolic acid 8 percent recently and within two day I noticed a significant change.

I have horrible skin, I am 27 years old and am tired of feeling like a teenager. So I started using Cetaphil antibacterial face wash bar, then apply glycolic acid for 1-2 mins, then was off. Then I apply retinoic acid (thin layer) and apply Neutrogena SPF 90 sunblock. Significant changes! I do this routine every night!

By anon57447 — On Dec 23, 2009

On purpose? Maybe you should take her to a doctor while you're at the therapist.

By anon55070 — On Dec 04, 2009

I burned my daughter's skin using glycolic acid and I can't get rid of the red mark. It's been several months now. Does anyone have any ideas what I can use? It's not a bad burn, but a noticeable pink spot.

By anon55023 — On Dec 03, 2009

The Ebay "xrap" is just that, poor quality junk that will burn you skin. Love this forum, I have learned a few really good ideas. Maggie

By anon54894 — On Dec 03, 2009

Hi, i've been stressed lately, so a lot of pimples came out of my face. Can you give me some beauty tips that would help me with my problem? 413

By anon49215 — On Oct 18, 2009

Ugh, all of these comments about people "burning" themselves! You should never start out using a high level of glycolic acid on your skin (peels or otherwise). Your skin is an organ and needs to adapt the way any other organ would adapt to medication or a foreign substance. You have to work your way up. My dermatologist recommended starting at 10 percent and working my way up to no more than 30 percent. He said that anything past that can severely damage your skin. And the person who posted about the pH level of the product is absolutely correct (at least according to two different doctors). The pH level should be as close to the pH level of your body as possible to work more effectively. The most reputable lines of glycolic products are sold at dermatologist's offices, so check with your doctor before simply buying something online.

By anon48100 — On Oct 09, 2009

Glycolic acid is the best cosmetic product! Thanks for the article.

By anon45253 — On Sep 15, 2009

I have been using a well advertised product made by a well known company that contains Glycolic Acid and I have had cold symptoms since. I was told by my GP that I had an allergy, I never thought for a moment it could be anything that I put on my face but after I ran out of the product I started to feel better. I am looking into all the ingredients of the product to see if they are safe.

By anon45203 — On Sep 14, 2009

I've used DDF 10 percent Glycolic Toner for a month now and ever since then, people are complimenting my skin, ask why it's glowing and what I use and drop their jaws when I tell them how old I am. It smells a little skunky and stings, but only for a minute, but I have had no irritation or redness at all. It's faded my freckles a little too. It's worth it! They will give you samples at Sephora. And it is remarkable for clearing up acne when carefully paired with benzyl peroxide.

By anon42779 — On Aug 23, 2009

castor sugar is full of glycolic acid. wet your face and cover with castor sugar wait for 15 mins then rinse off. the skin looks and feels fantastic and it only costs a couple of cents to do it.

By anon41394 — On Aug 14, 2009

i put it all the way under my eyes and now

second day very puffy under eyes. i look like a boxer. already scabbing on cheeks using aloe vera. i let it dry and then apply antibioic oitntment. i'm a big ugly jelly donut.

By anon40211 — On Aug 06, 2009

I have been receiving HydroDerma facials followed by aha accelorator, living cell clarifier, & hydro gel - made by glymed. I have had two since last Friday and have washed each day - as directed with glymed glycolic acid face wash 10 percent- my face looks like a new born on the cheeks and neck - but along my nose and around my mouth are terrible. I have a red-orange tint and my face continues to break out each day a bit worse. Around my mouth is also peeling off in layers and my upper lip looks like I burned it with a curling iron! If you have sensitive acne prone skin I would consult with a dermatologist before using anything!

By anon37882 — On Jul 22, 2009

Regarding the post from anon30828 #37, I also have fair, sensitive skin and have been using Retin A 0.01% for quite some time now. I am wondering if I use the Natura Bisse Glycolic if I should stop using the Retin A prior to using Natura Bisse Glycolic. I am in my fifties.

By anon35861 — On Jul 08, 2009

Is glycolic acid safe to use while you are pregnant?

By anon35810 — On Jul 07, 2009

If you want an effective, natural and most of all, inexpensive glycolic treatment then try lemon juice. This is far better than any pricey AHA treatment I've used previously. You can read a lot of reviews about it a www.makeupalley.com

By anon30828 — On Apr 25, 2009

The Natura Bisse Glycolic is the *best* thing I have ever used. It comes in 25%, 50% and 60%. I have pale, sensitive skin and have *no* problem with the 50% strength. After using it, my skin is smooth, radiant and feels amazing! Also, my treatment products sink is like nothing else! I have never used an exfoliating treatment that comes close to this.

If you're afraid of the GlycoPeel, Trish Mcevoy makes a cleanser that I've used a couple of times a week that really gets you squeaky clean (it's really helpful during the humid summer months of Tennessee!)

By gabby7676 — On Apr 15, 2009

I purchased glycolic acid on ebay over 3 years ago. I am now 32 and have had great success using it. I use 50% or 30% on my face for 4-6 minutes and rise off with the neutralizer. Wrinkles, scars and sun spots are diminished and my skin is tight and clear. Directions say to use it once, three weeks in a row, then take a week off. I don't use it that regularly (too lazy). But if I did, I think my skin would look better and the 50% wouldn't be needed, the 30% would be enough.

By anon30230 — On Apr 15, 2009

I work at a spa with estheticians and I use a really low dose of glycolic (5%) every once in a while, but that is because I am 20 and my only point of glycolic (other than to dry out the occasional blemish) is to fight free radical damage since I spend a lot of time in the sun. But I have very good skin and I use it probably once a month.

Glycolic should be used once a week, at most! To answer someone's question, yes it is normal to make your skin dry. The point of glycolic is to renew your skin, and you can't do that without having some dry skin to slough off! Use a moisturizer! As you get older, your skin takes more and more time to renew itself, and glycolic speeds that process up.

As for the person who used glycolic products for a year, don't *ever* do that! If you are going to use glycolics or retinoids or anything, you have to take breaks or your skin will react, and not in a good way! It will thin it out which is the worst possible thing you can do to it!

By ellen70 — On Apr 14, 2009

I've been using Kavi glycolic acid peels for 4 years now with incredible results. Once every other week for 10 minutes and I have smoother, brighter skin that requires less makeup than I've used in 30 years!

By anon29770 — On Apr 08, 2009

I too have used DoctorSecret brand with great results. Instructions and a huge bottle of neutralizer included. Never had a single problem and clear (wrinkle free) skin for several years.

By anon29741 — On Apr 07, 2009

I put ebay stregnth 60% on and followed directions and it burned my skin. I washed it off after 3 minutes too. Do not put over 30 on your face!

I do think the results will be worth it, but I have been hiding out 4th day now because it caused the area below my eye to swell and retain water. Its bizarre looking. I did not put it anywhere near my eyes- it does not hurt, it is just like water blisters. It does not seem to be going down and I am frustrated as I need to leave the house! So, any suggestions anyone?

By shalinic123 — On Mar 23, 2009

I am using Glycolic acid 6% cream and I feel my skin has become very dry especially on the cheeks area. Is it normal or is this a side-effect or allergy?

By sbowen26 — On Mar 07, 2009

If Glycolic acid is made from sugar cane...Where does the acid portion come from?

By dbiondolillo — On Feb 18, 2009

I just purchased AHA revitalizing lotion by DCL(Dermatologic Cosmetic Labortories)

I don't know if I'm supposed to wash this off or leave on like a moisturizer (it's not a moisturizer)

does anyone know??

By EricaHolmes — On Jan 10, 2009

I've used doctor secret brand for years and love the results. They sell a complete kit.

By anon24132 — On Jan 07, 2009

to neutralize glycolic acid use baking soda and water.

By anon23380 — On Dec 23, 2008

what can you use to neutralize glycolic peel? Water? I bought a kit and the neutralizer leaked out of the bottle in the mail, and I still have had no response about getting it replaced by shipper?

By anon20451 — On Oct 31, 2008

i try soap which contains glycolic acid and it really works, makes my skin becomes lighter, it tightens my pores, and it reduces my acne..

By mahen — On Oct 20, 2008

I am brown skinned person but my face and hand and leg color is darker which makes me really stupid to go out swimming or other activities as such what would be best thing to do?

By EricaHolmes — On Oct 10, 2008

I noticed there are several versions of Glycolic acid. Glycopure, Lactic acid, and Malic acid. I guess they are all AHA's, but which one is best?

By bonjore — On Oct 03, 2008

i am a 34 male. tanning of both cheeks looks bad. dry skin can i use glycolic acid to peel off my dead skin and kindly guide me in which concentration??

By anon18951 — On Oct 02, 2008

Glycolic acid has no receptor sites in the skin and when applied, in any concentration, it produces a cascade of free radical damage that disposes the skin to a highly inflammatory response leading pre-mature aging! Best to stay away from this AHA, there are much better products on the market. Left un-neutralized, this acid can burn the skin causing blisters and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (brown spots). Stay away from this junk!

LeeAnn Day, R.N.

By obmermaid — On Aug 17, 2008

can glycolic acid can be used for tattoo removal? I would like to hear about it

By anon13880 — On Jun 05, 2008

MD Forte II Glycare with Glycolic Acid.

Buy it. Use it.

I got mine for $18 for 2 oz. liquid. Been using it for years and it really fights acne well.

I first use Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash with salicylic acid, and rinse off and let my face dry completely. Then I apply the MD Forte II Glycare (which is a leave on product, do not rinse off). At night, I apply Neutrogena Benzoil Peroxide cream and the one-two-three punch works very, very well. I will always have acne, but this regimen keeps it in remission indefinitely. If used every day, very rarely do I ever have a flare up. Hope this info helps someone. You're not only with your genetic curse.

By anon12379 — On May 05, 2008

I have heard that glycolic acid can be used in tattoo removal. Is this true?

By anon11049 — On Apr 07, 2008

Acne can be controlled with 10% glycolic acid. The facial peel needs a stronger 10-70% and a neutralizer to protect. I've used Glycopure for years and look 10 years younger than my sister.

By anon10867 — On Apr 04, 2008

i trust AHA. its given me a lot more youthful skin after its use in a peel and Loreal Creams.

By anon8516 — On Feb 15, 2008

i use a brand called DDF and it's a Glycolic 10% exfoliator, it works wonders for me, try to not purchase facial products with no less than a percentage of 10% to treat facial flaws, such as acne. it has cleared up my acne, GREATLY reduced the appearance of my pores. i would recommend DDF 10% Glycolic Exfoliating Gel with 2% Salicylic Acid, it can be found at your local Sephora.

By anon6937 — On Jan 13, 2008

Don't forget that the % is a connection with the pH level. If you buy a glycolic acid at 30% and the pH value is like 5, then it most likely won't be as effective as an glycolic acid at 10% with an pH value of 1.7 - The lower pH value, the more effective the glycolic creme will be.

By anon6755 — On Jan 08, 2008

I purchased thirty percent glycolic acid online and found that it did not irritate my skin. I feel that my skin is soften and have noticed gradual improvement. I follow the directions, which indicates application one time per week and to be left on the skin 3-6 minutes.

By anon6746 — On Jan 08, 2008

I started using skin care products containing glycolic acid. After using them for about a year, my eye started watering, then I got a red rash on the sides of my face. My skin also started to burn when applying the moisturizer. I switched to different skin care products and immediately the symptoms disappeared.

By olittlewood — On Dec 28, 2007

is glycolic acid safe to use while you are pregnant and/or nursing? since it is a natural substance derived from sugar cane and fruit acids, are there any recipes out there that you can make at home using products from the supermarket? it would probably be a fun thing to make your own glycolic acid face scrub or mask at home, and would be a lot more gentle than commercially prepared products!

By anon5718 — On Dec 04, 2007

neutrogena oil free acne face wash (the CYLINDRICAL bottle, not the other one) has glycolic in it...

By anon5420 — On Nov 24, 2007

I use products that have 6-8% glycolic acid, so not lots, but I have noticed a reduction in acne.

By anon4494 — On Oct 20, 2007

Do not get this stuff in your eye- it is painful and hard to remove!

By anon3292 — On Aug 21, 2007

Hi, just recently I was looking on the internet for good ways to get rid of acne. While reading an article, I stumbled across this "Glycolic acid" and heard that it does help to decrease the amount of acne you produce. Could you tell me a few products that this chemical is in??

Thank you so much.

By Dayton — On Jun 18, 2007

In all honesty, it sounds like you have an allergy to an ingredient in that product. If I were you, I'd go see my physician, and take the product along to examine the ingredients.

Good luck!

By anon1829 — On Jun 17, 2007

I purchased a product to remove hard skin from feet. The product was in pad form. I used one - as instructed(basic - rub over areas of hard skin). My feet have been itching and feel burned for 2 days. It is extremely unpleasant. There were no warnings of side effects on container at all.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to BeautyAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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